by Melissa Piper Nelson
When is a business plan, not a business plan? The answer is when selling efforts direct you to a different path. If a new farmers market opportunity opens up, a change in retail location presents itself, or you consider a farm gate expansion, your over-arching business plan may require some adaptation. Great! A change in plans often means a challenge, or a changing venture that takes you to a new operational level.
While a solid business plan represents the foundation from which all your efforts begin, a good plan is flexible enough to allow for the new opportunities that come your way. As an important secondary direction, your marketing plan guides how you will prepare for the changes.
Your marketing plan defines the target audiences you identified, follows the channels you have planned to reach each audience, and presents the means to connect your product or service to the various target groups.
If a particular market or retail operation caters to young families, a review of your business plan may require directing more promotional funding to this new sector. It could also mean a change in product, packaging and sales. Analyzing your business plan to see where these adjustments can be made, or if the opportunity does not meet your criteria for successful change, should give you a clear notion of how to make adjustments or relinquish the idea for a time.
New opportunities often form the catalyst for change, but competition and regulations may also require you to re-direct your business planning. A competitor may hit on a trend that quickly moves toward increased sales. If you are ready to quickly adapt as well, you should be able to capture some of the same market, or seize other parallel marketing trends that align with your unique product or service.
Regulations continually require adaptations in business and marketing plans as well. What you were able to do last year, may not be what you can do this season. Products may need new packaging, labeling and forms of presentation. Some products may be under increased inspection or regulation due to illness outbreaks or disease-spreading concerns. Conquering these challenges relies on how well you have prepared for changes in your business model.
In preparing for what changes may come along, one cannot forget that customer satisfaction still remains the key to a successful operation, whatever the circumstances. You can prepare for and meet the changing sales environment, but you still must deliver a product or service that consumers want to buy. Quality and integrity cannot be compromised for a quick return.
In advice to business owners, UPS recently noted in their Small Business Solutions blog, “Success depends on how you identify new opportunities and continually adapt to change so that you conquer new ground and stay on top of the game.”
Business plans provide the framework from which your venture operates and grows. Flexibility in those plans gives you the ability to see and react to new opportunities in terms of reasonable production levels and funding appropriate to your own operation.
Take some time to review your current business and marketing plans to see where you can rapidly adjust strategies to be ready for market opportunities and new ventures this season.